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Monday, 05 September 2011

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I know this isn't a TOP link, but Photo-Eye provides a look at some of the pics...http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=ZE130&i=&i2=

As an aside, Haas also did fine early work in black and white, as shown in the posthumously published book (with the help of Jim Hughes), "Ernst Haas in Black and White." Haas intended on publishing this work on his own, but never got the chance. Sometimes a photographer becomes better appreciated (or even known - see Vivian Maier) after he/she is gone. Haas, of course, has a lot of preconceptions to overcome.

I hope you realize that my savings fund for a D700 continuously dries up because you keep recommending all these interesting books.

About twenty years ago a book was published called "In Black & White" which showed his mostly unseen pictures done in B & W...A very good book which has been out of print for a long time...

Color is spelled coloUr in most of the world.

There are however, exceptions...

I hope you're happy. I wasn't aware that Haas needed "rehabilitating" (it's like the draft board official asking Arlo Guthrie in "Alice's Restaurant": "Kid--have you rehabilitated yourself?"), but I ordered the book anyway, along with the new edition of "Gypsies" that Amazon so helpfully threw up there for my consideration. There goes my beer budget for the fall.

If you love color photography, then Saul Leiter's Early Color and this book should be on your shelve.

I bought this book a month ago and think it's amazing stuff.

Thanks for this tip, Mike. I recall seeing a pre-announcement for this book in Steidl's catalog but forgot its pub date. Bought! Early color is very much my sweet tooth and Ernst Haas's work is like a fine chocolate shop.

I don't know how "invisible" Haas really was. Most workman-like photographers were, and still are, invisible to the general public. Certainly he did not get the attention or fame of some contemporaries who were also doing vibrant, expressive color work, many of whom were not nearly as talented or camera-skilled. But that's a very familiar song, isn't it? I admit to not being very familiar with Haas. Perhaps, given my involvement with photo history and museums, that probably says it all. I have the impression that self-promotion was not his strength.

BTW, those who would like to see more of Haas's work before buying the book should visit the Ernst Haas Estate site. Breathtaking stuff, much of which can be purchased directly!

Mike J said:

"My critical thesis about him was that he was an innovator who "became invisible" because he was so widely and so thoroughly copied. If you do things no one has ever done before, but then everybody else does them too, what's left to distinguish your original work from that of the later imitators?"

I've thought this about a number of photographers -- Art Wolfe for another -- but decided that usually they are essentially working out a line of thought that is obvious. That is, somebody was going to shoot like Haas (or Wolfe) and right about the time they did, simply because that idea or look was there for the taking. It didn't take a revolutionary eye, just intense contact with the business and a sharp interest in the possibilities of new products and procedures. (I think.)

I would like to write an extended argument about Ansel Adams sometime, because he is an interesting case in a lot of ways. In some ways, he was a product of on-going western photography and painting, a style that was well-established before he got there. But, he brought a "modern" eye and sensibility and stance to it, and created something wholly different. Since he did that, literally thousands of professional and amateur photographic artists have worked the same territory, and yet Adams' iconic pieces never have gotten buried in his many, many imitators. I think that's because he did have a radical and revolutionary eye, and so his art persists, in a way that Haas' has not.

I'll be interested in this new Haas' book as well, because it's always fascinating to see what serious and sensitive commercial photographers can do in their private work -- as with Avedon, for example.

JC

It'll be interesting to see this more "complex" and "radical" work since I'm one of those that never quite saw what the fuss was about him when he was alive- unlike say... Harry Callahan, another tireless innovator.

Chuck,
I haven't had a beer for 19 years and 360 days. You'll live. [g]

Mike

I had these two book at hand. Haas on one side, Giacomelli on the other. And I started to compare: the content, emotional impact, and, yes, the intelligence of both photographers. I took the Giacomelli and left the Haas behind.

It always infuriates me when people (who present themselves as scholars or authorities and who then ought to know better) write that Eggleston was the first to have his color photography shown at MOMA. Steichen gave Haas a color show in the 60s! Other notables who were doing private color work? Aaron Siskind all along just as Callahan was (my Phaidon 55 on Siskind is the first to publish any of his color) and Wynn Bullock also did some very odd color.

OT but relevant to the "beautiful cars" discussion is the 1953 Studebaker Coupe, partially shown in the Haas photo that accompanies this posting. I know, not a roadster, although I had a friend in the 1960s who rolled a '53 Starlight Coupe, then cut off the mangled top and installed a roll cage.

Didn't Haas do bullfighting with Kodachrome 25 which was represented as innovative because of the slow speed of the film. As I recall the images are impressionistic. Possibly this was an assignment for Life hence commercial(?), not artistic.

Ordered!

I don't care how fashionable it isn't I have been a Haas fan ever since I first came across his work many years ago and realised colour really was very very cool. If I shoot colour almost exclusively, it's partly his fault.

Doesn't mean I don't like Eggleston et al. Just that I don't think Haas' "accessibility" takes anything away from him. A victim of popularity? How funny that (as far as curators are concerned) it only seems to matter who you are popular with....

Agree though it's hard to find a really good book on Haas's work.

The Creation was a big deal in 1971 while I was in college. I found one I could afford in an art supply store that was getting out of the book business about that time. Four years later Haas put the zap on my head again with In America.
Pulling both down from the shelf this morning reminded me of how terrific his work was. I do think the color reproduction in either book could have been better.
This all came along about the same time Creed Taylor was putting Pete Turner pictures on CTI albums. Great pictures on great records.
I think it's a good time to dust off the wheel of steel and kick back with the Tamba 4.

Leave it to critics and curators to deride Haas's work as "overly commercial", "too easily accessible", as well as "not sufficiently serious." Curators and critics, too many of them, consider themselves the intermediaries between Art, capital A, and the great unwashed. They despise the accessible and graciously consent to explain the inaccessible to us. There is an irony here in deeming Haas as too commercial, given that in 1949 he refused an offer from Life magazine to join their staff, joining Magnum instead just because, as he said, he belonged to the kind of photographers "who gain something by taking pictures they are interested in." The "something" he gained was clearly not financial. As for "accessible" and "serious", I find Haas's work quite accessible and seriously good. On the other hand, I also find Eggleston's work quite accessible: it is accessibly boring, accessibly banal. Of course, I'm paraphrasing art critic Hilton Kramer's description of of Eggleston's work as perfectly boring, perfectly banal. After all, even art critics have their good moments.

"I doubt this book will succeed in rehabilitating Haas, especially as there can be no case for authorship—a book not directed or approved by the photographer can't entirely be a true reflection of the photographer's work even if he took all the pictures."

Wouldn't that mean that all books about dead photographers, painters etc. are essentially second-class? What about the Kertész book you -in my opinion rightly - recommended some time ago?
There might be a difference between a book as a photographer's work (lets say Robert Frank's "The Americans") and a book about a photographer's work, or part of it, as the Haas and Kertész books you presented.

Christoph,
You answered your own question. [s]

Mike

I'm a committed color photographer, and Ernst Haas was one of my early references. I used to scan his work through the Magnum website. So presented with a chance of finally owning something by him in print, I ordered the book right away via your convenient Amazon.com link. I must say that TOP has a habit of making me overshoot my monthly book budget. That's good for my library but a pain in the pocket.

I laughed out loud at the thought of looking to the modern world of fine art for verification of whether Ernst Hass was a great artist. The work of Ernst Hass is heartbreakingly beautiful in almost every way. The culture of the high end of the modern art world has declared an ongoing war on beauty for a very long time now. Its just one of many, many aspects of the sickness of modern culture and a society at war with nature and hell bent on suicide. When something has to be explained to me by someone "smarter" than me for me to understand it as a great work of art it is it just makes me feel sorry for the people that are still standing there at the end of that narrative. Which is exactly why in the whole art world my favorite place to hang out is with other musicians. Avant-garde music is nowhere because the same pathetic scam that is run by the kingmakers of modern visual fine arts can't be perpetrated in the world of sound. Just how many collectors are you going to get to pay a million dollars for the priveledge of living with the exclusivity of a piece of s___ song built on the back of a wink and a nod, and noise?

Long live the soulful work of Ernst Hass. I will continue to point to him as a great influence and an artist whose work needs no intellectual defense. And thank you very much Mike for the heads up about the book. I already ordered it.

...But although his colour work earned him fame around the world, in recent decades it has often been derided by critics and curators as 'overly commercial,' and too easily accessible..

Too easily accessible? That's a fault? Both artists and teachers reveal something to us. Who ever accused a teacher of being too accessible?
Along with Haas, Pete Turner and Art Wolfe are photographers I admire. Both have named Haas as an inspiration; but then, perhaps their work is too accesible as well.

Thank you for the recommendation. I bought the book, and find it quite nice except for the texts which I found rather condescending. The reason for this late comment is that I wanted to mention that one of the pictures, "3rd Avenue, Reflection", 1952, page 92, also appears in Ernst Haas Color Photography, as Reflection - Third Avenue, 1952, page 80. It is mentioned in the introduction to Color Correction, though not by its title, just a description explaining that there were signs that Haas was not quite as hopeless. By the way, I much prefer the reproduction in the older book, though of course I have not seen the original transparency.

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